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This family-friendly interpretive trail follows around the southern shoreline of the Yaquina Estuary. Signs along the way inform visitors about the importance of estuaries and the plants and animals that inhabit them. Low tide, when the mudflats show, is an excellent time to watch flocks of hungry shorebirds.
Difficulty: Easy – all ages (the trail is mostly paved)
Hike Type: In and out
Distance: .9 miles one way
What to wear: Comfortable shoes, rain gear as weather indicates.
Try the HMSC Natural Trail Quest: Enrich your walk with this family-friendly Quest.
The trail begins at a rock jetty at the far end of the parking lot for the Hatfield Marine Science Center.
A paved trail leads off to the right and crosses a footbridge before avoiding a short washed-out area at a cobble beach.
A sign here explains the Yaquina Estuary system. The paved trail resumes just a few yards from the beach and heads in along King Slough. At the shelter, you will find an interpretive panel about the mudflats. In season, you may see people clamming in the mudflats when the tide is out. Low time is the time when shorebirds will also be foraging.
You will come to a junction, keep left (going right takes you into the Marine Science Center complex) and pass a willow thicket. Walk by a picnic table and reach an elevated boardwalk over a swampy arm of the estuary.
After the boardwalk and the last information signs, the trail comes to a road with a "No Trespassing" sign on the left and the Hatfield Marine Science Center complex on the right.
You can return along the Estuary Trail or go right and then left on 25th Street to walk out to the paved Tsunami Evacuation Trail, which runs alongside OSU Drive to make a loop back to the Hatfield Marine Science Center Trailhead.